Depression has changed me. For better or worse, it’s an experience that has made a permanent mark on my character.
Depression has also confused me, because, although I know I’ve changed, I can’t always remember what I was like before it came along.
I sometimes have vivid memories of what I felt like at the worst points of my depression, and I know I don’t feel like that any more, thank goodness. For example, I no longer have to go back to bed in the middle of the day because I feel too awful to be around other people, even close friends.
On the other hand, I do still get feelings and moods that have that familiar darkness to them, and I wonder if the black fog is creeping back.
But what is normal? I’d be a fool to think that I was permanently sunny and bright before the days of depression. I didn’t spend every waking moment skipping merrily through meadows without a care in the world.
I experienced stress. I worried. I got nervous. I sometimes got angry. These are all perfectly normal human emotions and traits, but if I feel them now I worry that they’re more than that.
The fear of depression making a comeback hasn’t quite subsided. In its cruel clutches, the stress would become brain-bursting headaches and tension; the nervousness and worry would become overwhelming anxiety; and the anger would turn to bitterness, resentment and self-loathing. This whirlwind of battering emotions and inner turmoil would leave me devoid of energy and enthusiasm.
I recognise that I am over the worst now and these days I describe myself as ‘recovering from depression’. Some days it feels like I’m still on the run from it and other days it feels like I’ve kicked its sorry backside so hard it may never darken my door again.
The things that make me doubt what’s normal are the nagging lack of confidence, particularly in some social situations; the bursts of anger and moods that blacken quickly; and the restless brain that chunters on to itself at random intervals during the day and night.
This up-and-down rollercoaster recovery is, I’ve learned, normal, which is quite a relief. There are good moments and bad moments, good days and bad days, good weeks and bad weeks. Yes, it’s confusing when you think you’re completely better then have an unexpected dip, but I’m finding that those dips don’t last as long as they used to.
The hardest things for me right now are to be patient and to try not to analyse myself too much.
Unfortunately, I seem to think ‘normal’ me was impatient and over-analytical…